Release Agents — Choosing the Right One

contributor:  Mike Linn, President, Nox-Crete

There are a number of variables for consideration in determining the right conform panel selection.  Once you’ve made that selection, it is equally important that you choose the right release agent.  The wrong form release can reduce the number of pours per panel, stain the concrete and potentially mar the surface.  The plywood substrate is the most expensive material component of concrete pouring and labor is at a premium — don’t overlook this critical step.

A form release agent is a chemical coating between panel and concrete surface.  Its importance is attributable to a number of things:

  1. The release agent supplements the overlay’s ability to keep alkaline water from seeping into the plywood substrate.  (Alkaline water can cause the wood fibers to swell and create cracks in the substrate, which can cause wood failure and undermine surface quality when the panel is removed)
  2. Without the right release agent, the form may be more inclined to stick to the concrete surface as it dries, destructive to the panel and to the concrete finish
  3. Inferior release agents (typically petroleum-based releases) can stain the concrete; the right release agent won’t

Many modern release agents are also water-based — Nox-Crete uses an organic fatty acid derived from plants that chemically creates a waterproof “soap” barrier on the conform panel.  The result is a greener, less expensive-per square foot product.

For more information about choosing the right release agents, contact us here.

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